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Game Review #510: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] (Nintendo Switch)

Review by: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Arc System Works

Publisher: Arc System Works

Category: Fighting Game

Release Date: 2.20.2020

Price: $39.99

Watch the Trailer

Buy Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

A Pedigree of Extremes

When it comes to fighting games, the crazier the better. The more insane the movement is, the more screen-filling the attacks are, and the longer the combos the better. So naturally after I actually learned fighting games with Street Fighter 4 - and I mean playing the games with more than just kind of button mashing my way through it - and understanding core ideas and principles of the genre, I found myself drawn towards the Arc System Works game series Blazblue. Now I’ve heard of ASW before, because I always thought the heavy metal aesthetic of Guilty Gear was super awesome looking, and it was one of those series where I didn’t play it, but the internet taught me who the characters were. I picked up Blazblue, and I had found my calling. Insane anime aesthetic, insane anime story, absolutely fantastic OST, and to tie that all off with the prettiest bow, some of the fastest, most intense and mobile combat I’ve ever found in a fighting game. I was in LOVE!

One of my fondest gaming memories will always be getting together with the Florida Air Dasher community (Air Dasher is what a lot of people refer to this subgenre of fighting games as), and having like 3 imported copies of Blazblue Chronophantasm, and being in an apartment FULL of people surrounding this game we were all so excited for, as we picked apart every new change, tried the new characters, and all in all had an amazing time! It’s been ages since those days it feels like and I don’t have the time to play fighting games enough to be as good as I like to be, but I do enjoy picking them up occasionally and reminding my friends who used to kick ass at these. So when Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[cl-r] (that's a mouthful!) - a series that I have always seen in big tourneys, or it had crossover characters in other games - fell into my lap, I was beyond excited to get back to it! Did my excitement pay off? Let's talk a little bit more about the game!

In-Birth? EXS? Context needed!

Undernight (Yes, I will either just call it this, or UNiB, and no, you can’t stop me!) is chock full of content. Featuring 21 characters - including a newcomer for this iteration of the game - this is the 4th version of the game released (think like Street Fighter 2, versus Super Street Fighter 2). With nearly 1,000 balance changes, Exe:Late cl-r is the the first time the series has found a home on the Switch, and it is a welcome newcomer on the console. This series of fighting games has characters with SUPER unique and cool powers; you won’t just be another karate dude shooting fireballs in this one.

You and an opponent will face off during an event called the Hollow Night, which is something that happens in this world that essentially causes two worlds to collide, and void monsters can invade the world and attack people. The good part of that, however, is that someone bitten by a void has a chance to become what is called an “In-Birth” which is someone granted special powers from the power of the void, mixed with a bit of their own innate power, and then has some form of control over EXS, a power contained within the world in all things. This control can be anything from crazy blood swords, to being able to even affect time and the elements; there is seriously a huge variety of characters and fighting styles.

You have your standard shoto character, who is pretty much your anime Ryu stand in. Projectiles, uppercuts, and some combo on the quarter circle backwards; it's normal, and a great place to start for any beginner! Rushdown, who specialize in getting in your face, knocking you down, and forcing you to guess when you stand up. Then there are Zoners who have tons of projectile attacks or traps, specializing in keeping their distance and whittling you down. We have a grappler who you don’t want to be within 2 feet of, or else he will absolutely take half your health in one insane grapple attack. Beyond the staples, there are some really unique ones as well; a giant half screen void beast with crazy spaghetti whip arms comes to mind, proving that even after YEARS of producing some of the most insane fighting games ever made, Arc Sys still has cool new ideas up their sleeves when it comes to fighters. There's surely a character here for everyone!

A Pretty Package

UNiB has a pretty standard spread of features for the modern fighting game. You have an arcade mode which will teach you a little bit about your character and such, the usual quick little lines of text between fights; nothing too exciting. If you are into this story they have the chronicles mode, which is essentially a collection of visual novels detailing the prologue scenario to this game. There is a staggering amount of text present in these; I was expecting something quick but good lord, you better be INVESTED in this, or else it might be a little overwhelming. Of course, you have online and offline versus mode as well. I don’t have a wired connection adapter for my Switch, so I don’t want to speak for sure on the online mode but it worked alright. It wasn’t amazing or anything, but it was certainly a workable online experience all in all, which one of you hardware devs want to send us an ethernet adapter on Switch so I can review that!?

After that we have a few alternate modes, that personally never really do anything for me but I’m glad they are there for the people that want them; Score Attack, Time Attack and Survival mode! Battle for points, quick completion, or fight until you drop in these additional modes, that also has an online ranking system to compete for. Then you also have training mode of course, for practicing those corner to corner combos and general craziness, tutorial mode to teach you some of the mechanics that differ in this series, or to teach a newbie the basics of the genre, and finally they have mission mode which will have you recreating wild combos from a list with each character. Finishing it off, you have customizing your online tag, or picking favorite colors for characters. There's a replay function as well, a gallery for cool art and other things, and of course, the ever-exciting options menu! Certainly enough content for most people!

Wrapping Up

I have been waiting for this game to cross my path for ages, and I am pleased to tell you guys, I was not disappointed. This game has a cool, varied cast of characters that are tons of fun to play, and fulfill tons of different fight game roles. 21 may not seem like the largest cast, but everyone has a ton of heart and utility to them. The gameplay itself is tight and intuitive, movement is clean and very free, and the combo structure feels great. An auto combo feature is present so players of any skill level can get into the anime action as long as they can land a hit as well. Combine that with gorgeous art, and the standby AMAZING jams that Arc Sys brings to the tables, and Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] does not disappoint. I had a good time with this one, and it is sure to enter the rotation on any fight night I host! Love fighters, and even more so, love air dashers? Then get this game!

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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